Turtlehead Video Stockholm

Shiro MASUYAMA

 
 

Turtlehead Video Stockholm is the project in which Masuyama applied the concept of his Shinjuku Kabukicho Project into Swedish sex industry. This project was included in a group exhibition in Kulturhuset, "Moving Japanese - Interfacial Space." A curator who likes Masuyama's Shinjuku Kabukicho Project invited the artist to that exhibition.

Shinjuku Kabukicho Project is deeply related to Japanese sex industry and the same style of performance would not be as effective in Sweden. Masuyama researched the Swedish sex industry before the exhibition to develop his work. In contemporary Sweden, the sex industry is strictly controlled and there are no official sex related services. He could not find even a text or an image that reminded him of something sexual. The only thing he found was a number of porn video shops. One of them that seemed a franchised shop featured a childish Disney-like character as its image symbol. Masuyama decided to adopt this peculiar irony of the shop - the inside of it was for adults but the outside was for children. Because the theme of the exhibition was a group show dealing with video art, he thought this appropriation from a porn video shop would nicely fit with the theme. Inside the museum, Masuyama situated an imitation of a Sweden style porn shop. He tried to create a meaningful absurdity by using a turtle character designed by him as a metaphor for penis, and the logo of the shop's name "Turtlhead Video Stockholm" as well as its open hours on the outside wall.*

When you open the gaudy red curtain and peep into the peeping-hole, like Shinjuku Kabukicho Project, you saw a few seconds of shuffled images of yourself shot by three hidden video cameras. This time, the cameras were placed in lower positions so that visitors were forced to see erotic-angled shots of themselves. They were embarrassing appearances such as an image of your crotch shot from the front and the rear and closeups of their lip. If you wore a skirt, the inside of the skirt was projected there. You were the one to get embarrassed even if you went into the room to see somebody else's embarrassing porn pose.

By setting video cameras this way, Masuyama achieved a more intense surprise than Shinjuku Kabukicho Project. At the same time, he tried to present this concept in a Western context in which direct expression is mainstream.

In front of the entrance of the room, there was a sign saying, "This work might be unpleasant for you. Please go in under your own responsibility." The exhibition took place for a month. At first, Masuyama and the curator from Japan especially worried about the trick that projected inside of skirts. However, visitors and curators of the museum did not care at all, and surprisingly, female visitors even enjoyed the work. That hightlighted the difference between the countries in regard to how people perceive sex.


  1. *In Japan, "turtlehead" represents "penis".


Kulturhuset, Stockholm

September, 2003


Photo 1&2: Hironori TSUKUE